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Sometimes the real-life romantic comedies end in a breakup with no makeup. It’s a tough world out there, but honestly, it’s important when things end. Not every relationship is meant to last, but maybe it teaches you a little bit more about yourself. Breakups suck, but sometimes you break up because of logistics and not something horrific. There is always the possibility to be friends with your ex, but it’s also okay to not be friends with your ex.
Clear boundaries need to be established, and that means some work is about to go down. However, before you start grabbing your chalk and start drawing some lines, let’s look at some red flags that should encourage you to cut ties with your ex for good.
1. Your Ex Takes No Blame
If your ex-partner takes absolutely no blame for anything that occurred between you two, then do not seek to be friends with them.
2. If Your Partner Cheated
If your partner cheated on you, do not seek to be friends with them. Especially if they get with someone else, they very well may try to get back with you, as they’re with someone new. Some people just really enjoy the chase and seeing how many people they can be with at one time.
3. If Your Partner Was Abusive
If your partner was abusive in any way or displayed classic signs of narcissism, do not be friends with that person. This person is manipulative and will continue to hurt you. If you’re looking for a book on the subject, then try this book: What Narcissist Don’t Want You To Know by Elena Miro. This particular book explores how to help you learn about just what makes a narcissist tick, and with that knowledge, you can take the appropriate steps to protect yourself without suffering from gaslighting or making trauma bonds.
4. If You Had a Physical Relationship
If your relationship was mainly physical and there is strong chemistry there, avoid being friends. Chemistry doesn’t fizzle out, and jealously may rear its ugly head when either of you begins to date other people.
5. If You Can’t Move On
If you truly cannot move on, let that person go. There is nothing worse than being stuck in an off and on again relationship. These relationships are energy drainers and don’t allow you to fully explore all the opportunities that come your way. If letting go is a challenge, then try this book Let That Sh*t Go by Bruna Nessif. Let That Sh*t Go: A Journey to Forgiveness, Healing & Understanding Love is a compilation of true stories detailing intimate relationships with various men in order to illustrate the ongoing lessons that continued to arise but were conveniently ignored.
In her usual conversational-yet-introspective tone, author Bruna Nessif will make you laugh, cry and reflect as she takes you on a very personal voyage where she recalls some of her most traumatic, heartwarming, embarrassing and monumental memories from her love life using transparent and vulnerable story-telling. You will finish this book with a new lens on love and self-worth as well as the tools to begin your own journey to healing by letting sh*t go.
Why and How to Be Friends With Your Ex:
Now you have some red flags here, but what about if you don’t see any red flags? Is it still possible to be friends with an ex? Well, start by asking yourself why you want to be friends with your ex. Let’s look below at some scenarios where being friends may be right for you.
1. You have kids with your ex.
Peaceful co-parenting with an ex-partner is important for the emotional well-being of your children. Now, again, this only applies if they are not abusive. Safety is first for you and your children. However, if safety is not a concern, then work on some peaceful co-parenting tips. If you’re having trouble getting started, then read this gem of a book, The Co Parenting Handbook by Karen Bonnell and Kristen Little. Parents need help to confidently take on the challenges of guiding children through divorce or separation and raising them skillfully in two homes. The authors, both trusted divorce and co-parenting coaches, provide the road map for all family members to safely navigate the difficult emotional terrain through separation/divorce and beyond.
2. Take a break after the breakup.
See if space has given you both some new insight. You won’t have the same relationship you had, but if you’re both committed to a friendship, then pursue it. This is especially important if you were friends before you became romantically involved. Not every relationship needs to be burned to the ground or have this hyperbolic nonsense in between. Space and time heals many wounds, and if all romantic desires are dealt with before entering a friendship, then proceed. This also means taking a break from each other through social media. Let yourselves breathe and be apart.
3. You have established boundaries.
A friendship doesn’t always include daily communication, but couples may have that. If you are transitioning into a friendship, explicitly state the new boundaries. Maybe have dinner once a month and avoid falling back into old habits like sleeping over and late-night chatting. You’re not a couple anymore, so your routines with each other need to change. Otherwise, someone could get confused, and there will be hurt feelings.
If you’re having a hard time drawing boundaries, then try this book, Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab. A licensed counselor and sought-after relationship expert, Nedra Glover Tawwab is also one of the most influential therapists on Instagram who demystifies this complex topic for today’s world. In a relatable and inclusive tone, Set Boundaries, Find Peace presents simple yet powerful ways to establish healthy boundaries in all aspects of life.
Rooted in the latest research and best practices used in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), these techniques help us identify and express our needs clearly and without apology — and unravel a root problem behind codependency, power struggles, anxiety, depression, burnout and more.
So, can exes really be friends?
Well, there’s a lot of factors involved in answering that question. Ultimately, you need to figure out the reason why you want to stay friends with them at all. If you want to keep tabs on them or maybe rub your next relationship in their face, then no, don’t bother. If you were genuine friends before and truly bring out positive experiences in each other you, then go for it.
Be self-aware enough to understand your own boundaries and understand the space surrounding that ended relationship. If you’re not ready to let go of the romantic feelings or you’ve been slighted in some way, then it’s really not worth your mental health struggles to deal with that energy on a daily.
It’s absolutely ok to break up in a non-dramatic fashion and let that person go with kind regards. Your life doesn’t have to be the ending of Titanic with you trying to hold on for dear life to a relationship that has clearly met its end. Your life is meant to be different post-breakup, and that’s fantastic and fabulous.